Moral Realism and the Argument from Skepticism

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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  • 1 Uppsala University, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 2 Uppsala University, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala, Sweden

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Abstract

A long-standing family of worries about moral realism focuses on its implications for moral epistemology. The underlying concern is that if moral truths have the nature that realists believe, it is hard to see how we could know what they are. This objection may be called the “argument from skepticism” against moral realism. Realists have primarily responded to this argument by presenting accounts of how we could acquire knowledge of moral truths that are consistent with realist assumptions about their nature. Less time has been spent, however, on the question of why it would be a problem for moral realism if it leads to skepticism in the first place, and on the related question of which skeptical conclusions it would be problematic for realists to simply accept. This paper considers several answers to these questions, thereby distinguishing a number of versions of the argument from skepticism, and discusses their prospects.

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